Defense Secretary: UK in Pre-War’ Phase With Several Nations

Predicts things will only get worse in next five years

As top officials defend the decision to join the US in attacks on Yemen, British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps has informed parliament of potential wars in the years to come with several major nations, including Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.

Shapps described the situation as a “pre-war” phase, and cautioned that wars with one or more of these nations could break out within the next five years. Britain would of course be directly involved.

Russia seems potentially the most likely of the four, as Britain continues to embroil itself in the Ukraine conflict, recently announcing an increase in military funding to help Ukraine purchase new military drones. In response, Russia directly warned that British deployment of troops into Ukraine would be tantamount to a declaration of war.

In recent years British officials have tried to spin the Russians as a direct threat to their interests, and, historically, a Britain-Russia rivalry has often led to military conflict. Throughout the 19th century there was ongoing conflict encapsulated as the Great Game between the British and Russian Empires. Indeed, the colloquial term jingoism goes back to a British music hall song from the 1870’s, backing British intervention against Russia in Turkey.

Britain has also sparred with Iran diplomatically in recent years, but it has not been close to direct current conflicts with either China or North Korea. It may simply be that Shapps is predicting US hostilities that could quickly suck Britain in.

The fact that Britain goes wherever the US leads means that should any of these wars of American intervention occur, there will likely be some British involvement.

Though American officials warn of the potential for conflict with any or all of these nations, they generally don’t put the wars on a five-year timetable, and in doing so, Shapps seems to suggest that Britain is, among NATO members, one of the more hawkish powers.

Conspicuously absent from the list is Venezuela, despite Britain’s recent deployment of a small warship to the Guyana coast, in an effort to assert Guyana’s ownership of disputed, oil-rich territory, a claim built around historic British colonial efforts in the region.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.